ISLAMABAD: Caretaker Finance Minister Dr. Shamshad Akhtar has announced that the government plans to increase gas prices once again to address the circular debt issue. During a media briefing, she emphasized the priority of achieving a tax target of Rs9415 billion by the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR). In the event of a tax revenue shortfall, additional measures will be implemented.
Akhtar informed the IMF about tariff revisions in the energy sector and the intention to impose extra taxes on various sectors, including real estate. The decision on taxes for retailers is yet to be determined. The postponement of issuing a $1.5 billion international bond was also highlighted, with Akhtar stating that bonds would be floated once the rating improves post the IMF agreement.
The finance minister mentioned expectations of $2 billion in loans from the World Bank in the current fiscal year. With other institutions like the ADB, Islamic Development Bank, and Asian Infrastructure Bank likely to lend $1 billion.
Akhtar disclosed the government’s plan to secure commercial financing from various countries and international organizations. An agreement with the IMF has been reached, awaiting approval from its Executive Board. Once approved, Pakistan will receive about $700 million, bringing the total payments under the IMF program to $1.9 billion.
The implementation of the budget for the fiscal year 2023-2024, which saw an increase in energy prices. Contributed to reducing fiscal and external pressures, resulting in a decrease in inflation.
While acknowledging these positive changes, Akhtar recognized external threats, including regional tensions, rising commodity prices, and challenging global conditions. Emphasizing the need to stabilize the micro-economy and achieve growth, she clarified her earlier statement about a $7 billion loan, stating it was in reference to $7 billion Reko Diq assets, not a new IMF loan.